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Dec, 19, 2010

Rains ruins Gold Coast's party

Gold Coast United's free ticket match against Central Coast Mariners was postponed after 20 minutes of play in torrential rain in another blow for the club's attempts to connect with the local fanbase.

Mother Nature's timing couldn't have been worse at relentless storms ruined what was supposed to be a party atmosphere at Skilled Park with United's billionaire owner Clive Palmer throwing the gates open for the crucial fixture.

On the pitch, Adam Kwasnik missed a penalty for the Mariners in what was otherwise a scrappy cameo where referee Chris Beath was eventually left with no choice but to call time on the match as the rain continued to fall.

Off it, Gold Coast had 'sold' over 20,000 tickets to the match but around half of those weren't redeemed as people stayed dry at home. The club will be encouraged by the thousands who did turn up, considering their crowds have started to dip below the 2,000 mark in recent matches, but will be devastated that their big day was ruined by one of the year's worst weather days.

The poor state of the Skilled Park pitch, which is maintained by the Queensland state government, contributed to the standing water visible across much of the surface and will only further frustrate the club.

Since the match did not reach half time, a full 90 minutes will be played at a rescheduled fixture. It's not yet clear when that match will take place or if Gold Coast will extend their free ticket offer for that or another game. Speaking after the match, United coach Miron Bleiberg and Mariners boss Graham Arnold accepted Beath's decision but bemoaned the need to add another game to an increasingly congested fixture list. Bleiberg hoped the match wouldn't take place during the Asian Cup, when he will likely be without Socceroos Jason Culina and Michael Thwaite, but the FFA may have little flexibility in deciding when the match will take place.

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